The Shaykhship and the Dominant Lineage
The existence of a dominant lineage group, a group having proportionally greater control of resources and ultimately greater power within a tribal group than any other segment, runs counter to the cultural model of the tribal system present in the Daghara region as well as to the classic model of the segmentary system. Yet the development of a dominant lineage is understandable within the framework of a segmentary mode, for it is, in a sense, the end result of conditions undermining those checks and balances which keep structurally equivalent segments equal in politico-economic terms. It is difficult to see how any segmentary system can persist under conditions which permit a single segment or alliance of segments to achieve a monopoly over sources of wealth. Observers note the practice of central governments in southern Iraq to register disproportionately large amounts of land in the names of shaykhs. This, they state, has been responsible for transforming the tribe from a "democratic" institution where wealth was widely shared and decisions consensually based, into a "feudal dictatorship" in which the shaykh is absolute ruler and the tribes.men mere tenant serfs.' Yet it is possible that under the conditions
of an agricultural subsistence adjustment, where wealth may be accumulated, socio-economic equality may be lost between structurally equal segments without outside interference. This suggestion should be kept in mind during the following history of the rise of the lineage of the present shaykh of the El Shabana.
Earlier the temporary loss of water in the Daghara canal was . explained as due to upstream changes in the Euphrates river regime at the turn of the century. At this time some sections of the EI Shabana deserted the land they had occupied and turned to
. sheepherding or soughtland elsewhere. Other tribal segments lost membership through. desertion of individual families. The El 105
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Naqish, which can be found on Map 5, is a good example. This group left the area at the time of water loss so that the El N aqish members now own only the fragmentary few acres of land shown on the map. Atiyah and .Sha'Ian, the father and grandfather of the present shaykh, were both apparently men of considerable foresight and personal charisma. Counting on the eventual return of water to the Daghara, first Sha'lan and later Atiyah gathered members of their lineage about them and proceeded to occupy abandoned lands. To do this, Atiyah first captured the shaykhship, which had resided with the Elbu Ubayd shabba. This action provoked serious fighting among the shabbas of the El Shabana, but Atiyah was aided by great personal popularity, by twelve sons, and by the fact that many otherwise opposing lineage groups were weakened by loss of men. Furthermore, it seems likely that much land was acquired without opposition, since many men must have been convinced that farming by irrigation was doomed on the Daghara canal. Shortly after water had returned in substantial quantities to the Daghara, following the construction of the Hindiyya Barrage (1908-1913), the British occupation and pacification of the area began. This outside occupying force suppressed any attempt on the part of other segments of the El Shabana to redress the imbalance of landholdings.
Whether or not the other shabbas of the El Shabana would have been able to correct the balance of landholdings within the ashira if the British had not arrived, is a matter of speculation. However, some of the actions taken by Atiyah and later by his son Mujid to reinforce their hard-won superiority are interesting. First of all, Atiyah and later his sons took wives from the shabbas they had alienated in their successful struggle for tribal control. Today, of all the shabbas who suffered considerable loss of land and position during that period, only two, E1 Ghrush and El Shawahin, remain somewhat aloof from the shaykh and his lineage. The El Ghrush and El Shawahin prefer to be counted as a separate ashira. Only during ·1956-1958 did members of this group begin once again to visit regularly the mudhif of the shaykh. Significantly these two shabbas are the only major groups with whom neither Atiyah nor the present shaykh Mujid succeeded in establishing an affinal bond. Secondly, Atiyah and Mujid, plus their brothers, have married women from large estate-holding
The Shaykhship and the Dominant Lineage families bordering the El Shabana lands, thus helping to insure good relations with powerful neighbors. Finally, members of the shaykh's lineage group have married women from the shaykh's lineages in different ashiras in the sill if E1 Aqra.
Thus through marriage the dominant lineage has succeeded in establishing a series of affinal bonds throughout its own ashira, as well as with powerful families outside the ashira. The complete genealogies of the Elbu Ubayd and El Mujarilin shabbas show that during Atiyah's time three men from these two groups married women from the El JamiCyyin, so exogamous marriages ineluded women leaving the shaykh's lineage. Women from the shaykh's family traditionally do not marry "foreigners." However, the Elbu Ubayd and the E1 Mujarilin are original, not adopted, members of the El Shabana and thus consanguineously related to the shaykh's lineage, and not «foreigners" in the true sense. In practice a few other exceptions to the rule have been noted, especially a sister of the present shaykh, who is married to a shaykh who is not a member of the El Shabana, but a powerful neighbor, who owns lands bordering on the El Shabana holdings.
Any shaykh, in reinforcing his own position, gathers a loyal retinue about himself. The retinue includes not only loyal kinsmen, and slaves or descendants of slaves, but also tribesmen from lineages other than his own. These men, including wakils (representatives) and haras (guards), are supported, along with their dependents, by the shaykh. They not only guard his person, but look after his interests, particularly by protecting his crops and giving orders to his tenant farmers. Presumably in the past, when violence was a real possibility, the shaykh gathered as many such men about him as he could afford to retain, as well as slaves and servants. The size of the personal retinue of the present shaykh is modest compared with the reported size of those of his forefathers, undoubtedly a reflection of the security insured by govern~ ment forces. Nevertheless, it is instructive to look at the sources of the shaykh's present retinue.
First of all, the shaykh depends heavily on two uterine brothers with whom he owns much land in common (see Map 6); one of these men, or the shaykh's eldest Sail, takes the shaykh's place in the guest-house in the latter's absence. The shaykh does not depend so much on his other brothers, and relations with some of
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them have for some time been strained over a dispute involving their common inheri tance of land.
The shaykh is also very close to the descendants of El Shatti, having twice married women from this group. Two men from this group help manage the shaykh's landholdings and are presumably compensated in some fashion for their work, though the financial details of such arrangements are not discussed.
The shaykh's guards change from time to time but usually are drawn from the settlement of El Shabana tribesmen living near Daghara. As armed hostilities are a thing of the past, the position is not as important as it was only two decades ago. However, there are always armed men sleeping near thedoor of the shaykh's quarters at night, and these accompany him when he visits distant settlements. Some of the guards cultivate land of their own, living at the shaykh's expense only when they are with him. Again, however, such arrangements are privately made. Only one guard appeared to be totally dependent on the shaykh for support, as were a handful of household servants. In sum, however, the group of men closest to the shaykh and involved in his personal affairs is recruited from close kinsmen other than his uterine brothers and his eldest sons.
No nile of primogeniture operates in relation to the shaykhship; the position may pass to anyone of good standing within the tribe, but usually goes to a son or brother of the last incumbent shaykh. 2 We have seen that struggles over succession within the family of the present shaykh have led to radical factionalism within his minimal lineage. The incumbent in fact came to power before the death of his father, partly to appease the government, against which Sha'lan Atiyah had led armed uprisings in 1935,3 and partly to insure that the position would not be captured by one of Sha'Ian's ambitious paternal uncles. To this day, the shaykh remains on bad terms with some of these uncles and their descendants.
Thus it is clear that in the struggle for the shaykhship whoever emerges as shaykh may. well have alienated many of his closest kinsmen. At the same time throughout his life all of his close male relatives remain heirs apparent. Therefore the numerousexogamous marriages contracted by the shaykhs and the drawing into the shaykhly retinue of men from all sections of the tribe serve two
The Shaykhship and the Dominant Lineage ends. Such, alliances strengthen the position of the shaykh vis-a-vis the entire tribe, helping him, in a sense, to rise above the structural limitations of lineage segmentation. They also strengthen his hand against his own brothers and paternal uncles, the most likely source of conspiracy and coup. Strained relations between the present shaykh and certain of his father's brothers and their sons may well constitute the basis for the emergence of another named grouping as these men, their sons, and their son's sons grow older."
The general question of authority, including the authority of the shaykh, will be discussed in the next chapter within the context of irrigation problems. However, one general observation about the authority of the shaykhship may be made at this point. The mere existence of a situation in which one man and his kinsmen have proportionally greater wealth than their fellow tribesmen may be a basis for power, but it is not necessarily a factor .in the development of socially recognized authority. Whatever authority may be enjoyed by the present shaykh, its source and exercise are different from those of the authority enjoyed by his father and grandfather. Both his father and grandfather enjoyed the relatively great wealth of the present shaykh, but these men also fulfilled the traditional role of tribal leader in that they were, fighting men; the last major battle was fought by the EI Shabana about thirty years ago.
The conditions of central government control in Iraq may 'constitute another explanation, in addition to the presence of small landholders, for the comparatively strong expression of tribal tradition among the El Shabana. In the uneven pattern of government control of southern Iraq, Daghara emerges as one region in which the government was not able completely to prevail until this decade." Thus tribal leaders in the Daghara area have been able to fulfill more of the role requirements associated with the shaykh's status' than was the case in many other regions of southern Iraq. For while a good shaykh must have been a reservoir of tribal law and an astute judge, he must first of all have been an activist, leading his group and opposing others. The change in the shaykhship in only one generation was summarized by a tribesman, who said: "The lastshaykh was a fighter; this one is a politician."
Under present conditions, the institution of the shaykhship 109
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still further limits the applicability of the segmentary model to the tribal organization herewith described. But more political justification may have existed for the still-current idea that the lineages of the tribe are equal, under historic conditions, when the shaykhship was held by various lineages of the EI Shabana, and when one shaykh perhaps had to cultivate support for his actions and remain responsive to consensual processes among the tribesmen; The shaykh could utilize available opportunities to develop support among tribesmen and increase his personal strength. But he was never entirely free of the consequences of complementary opposition: other lineages within the tribe could always combine to overthrow him and his lineage. Yet however fragile the power of the shaykh, however much of it rested on consensus, the institution of the shaykhship definitely did not in the past accord with the idea model of the acephalous segmentary social system. And in the more recent past, of course, the "guaranteed" shaykhship makes the tribal organization of the El Shabana resemble the segmentary model even less.
THE TIES BINDING THE SYSTEM
Thus far the interests of the individual segments within the ash ira have been stressed, particularly in terms of kinship and landholdings. But the ashira also acts as a single body in defense of its land or in expansion of its holdings. Members of the ashira also were, and are, able to act as a coordinated faction to maintain and establish the irrigation works upon which their agriculture depends. Certain institutionalized relationships link men across shabba boundaries. Furthermore, the character of a shaykh's lineage is such that certain statuses and associated roles transcend the self-interest of individual ash ira segments and form the basis for centralized authority within the ashira itself.
What customary practices serve to bridge segmented lineages so that when concerted action is necessary, the ashira can and does act as a single group? Unless traditional social relations have been established between the members of these territorially localized, preferentially endogamous, lineage-based segments within the
The Shaykhship and the Dominant Lineage
.ashira, cooperative action would be unlikely to be found on an ashira-wide level of participation except, perhaps, under such extreme duress as outside attack. The shabbas of the EI Shabana, while not perfectly equal in terms of the lineage system, nevertheless constitute a strong basis of ingroup interest and are a potential source of intra-ashira conflict. To explain why shabbas join in common action on occasions other than the ashira's self-defense, we must explore inter-segmental links other than the formal, culturally defined bond of belonging to one ashira.
One important tie which may exist between members of ashira subsections is exemplified in that of horse ownership. Horses are important in the Daghara region not so much for transportation (actually few men ride horses) but as the only source of power for plowing. All farming tribesmen must have access to a plow and horse during every fall planting season. Yet a horse is costly and expensive to maintain, and not more than one horse is found for every ten adult men among the EI Shabana. Only a few wealthy men, principally of the shaykh's family, own whole horses; in the majority of cases a man way own only an eighth of an animal. One might assume that a horse would be jointly owned by members of the same fakhd or shabba. However, this is usually not the case. The owners of a horse may live miles apart and commonly are members only of the same ashira. Horses are offered for sale at public markets in Daghara village, as are sheep, cows, and occasionally donkeys. Agreements are struck on the spot between tribesmen who happen to be interested in investing in a horse. The man who feeds the horse has use of it as a riding animal, whereas a man who owns only an eighth of a horse and cannot afford to maintain it may only use the horse a few days each year and receives only a small proportion of profits realized from the sale of colts. A man who owns a fourth of a horse may, during his period of use, also plow his non-horse-owning brother's land in return for cash or, more commonly, for a substantial meal. Thus use of the horse extends even beyond its multiple owners.
One effect of this practice is to minimize the risks of horse ownership, and ease the problem of raising capital for investment. The death of an expensive horse would be a tragedy if the horse were owned exclusively by one group of brothers and COUSIns.
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As it is, the loss of a horse is spread over a wide number of people, and no one fakhd or shabba is unduly deprived. Similarly a man, when he wishes to invest in a horse, might well have. to raise the money through loans from his nearer kinsmen; it would be generally impossible for the same group to raise enough cash to purchase an entire horse. The horse is the most familiar object of non-lineage partnership, but other less general examples exist, founded on the same principle of extensive partnership.
Intermarriage constitutes another very important source of institutional relations between ashira segments. Such marriages of course violate the preference for lineage endogamy and run counter to the explicit preference for parallel-cousin unions. What are the reasons for these exogamous marriages? They appear to stem from three quite unrelated cultural patterns: (1) the settlement of blood feuds, (2) the demonstration of personal wealth, and (3) the institutionalization of friendly relations between other than kin groups.
While cash payments have been permitted as a substitute for the giving of women in the settlement of a feud, a fasl which is based on cash payments alone is regarded as "black" and unlikely to end the bad feeling between the two groups involved. If the payment of a woman is part of a fasl, the fasl is considered to be "white," and likely to herald real peace .between the disputing segments. According to informants, mixed fasls, involving both women and cash payments, are most common; the cash standing for one or two of the three women who traditionally must be turned over to the fakhd of a murdered man's group - ideally to any of his close relatives needing a wife. Offspring of these marriages are tangible evidence that a feud has truly been settled. Neither the offspring nor the "foreign" wife are second-class citizens of the father's group, but the mother's origins are well remembered (for five generations, in one genealogy), and her group of origin is referred to as "sons of our mother's brother'; (awlad khalna).
If such an exogamous marriage is fruitful and the offspring prosper and increase, the number of men within a shabba who refer to another shabba's men as awlad khalnamay be large enough so that a special relationship of mutual aid and attendance at each other's festival celebrations may be established. Under such conditions future marriages often occur between the two groups; it is frequently
The Shaykhship and the Dominant Lineage said that "if you have no relative to marry on your father's side the next best thing is to marry your mother's relatives." 6
Intermarriage between lineage groups is also an expression of economic abundance. Parallel-cousin marriage is the least expensive source of a wife. Prosperous older men, who may have married a cousin in their youth, may decide to take another wife and this second (or third) wife will often be a "foreigner," that is to say someone from outside the man's fakhd. Similarly, a prosperous man with a marriageable son may encourage a "foreign" marriage, particularly if he is in any way estranged from his brothers. Generalizations about the bases of such marriages are difficult to make; some cement long-standing friendships between fathers, others are the culmination of "falling in love," and others seem to be purely prestigious acts of men who are wealthy and wish to enjoy the fact. However, taking a "foreign wife" is expensive, for her family must be well compensated for her loss to another group. If a woman has a cousin who claims her, his permission must be secured and often he too must be compensated. One way of avoiding the higher bride price of a foreign marriage is to arrange a sister-brother exchange. Such exchanges are usually the outcome of long-standing good relations between the two families; kinship, based on earlier marriages, often exists between the two groups. Exchanges of this kind between brothers with children of a marriageable age are also not uncommon.
In addition to horse ownership and intermarriage, several other institutions cut across shabba lines and tend to unite the ashira. Most of these ties have already been described, but it is perhaps worth summarizing them once more. All members of the EI Shabana belong to the same sect of Islam, the Shi'a, and participate together in the rituals of the sect, especially during Muharram. The Sada, or descendants of the Prophet, who reside with the various shabbas of the ashira, act as intermediaries between the shabbas when conflicts arise. Celebrations upon the major Islamic feasts bring together all segments of the tribe, as do funerals and weddings. The hosa dramatizes the solidarity of the ashira as a unit. And, of course, the mudhif of the shaykh, site of the celebrations, the hosas, the gatherings at the time of funerals and weddings, is another bond. The mudhif is built with help donated by various shabbas and supported by tribal or mudhif
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land set aside for this purpose. Guest-house, assembly, jural court: the mudhif is tangible evidence of the existence of the ashira as an institution.
But actually how "tribal" are the El Shabana andsimilar tribes?
I have shown the several ways in which the tribal system departs from the segmentary model. Yet many social systems, not segmentary in structure, are commonly regarded as tribes: the segmentary model is, after all, only a construct, a tool utilized by the investigator. Of what concern is it that the El Shabana do not now exhibit all those characteristics typical of segmentary organized tribes?
The cultural model of the tribal system still held by tribesmen is of a segmentary system insofar as the lineage-based subsections of the tribe are stated to be equal at each "nesting level" of organization within the system, with respect both to composition, and to political and economic power. What I have attempted to demonstrate is how far the "realities" of the contemporary social order department from the "ideal" order which still seems to be fresh in the minds of the local tribesmen. More than this, lacking an adequate description of tribal organization prior to the introduction of state controls, it is tempting to use the cultural model provided by informants as a base line against which to measure change. Yet it is also clear that, at least in this part of the Arab world, the tribal system has traditionally incorporated two apparently contradictory tendencies. Certain political and economic processes have tended to favor lineage stratification, or the development of dominant lineages. This has led Dickson, for instance, to speak of "royal clans" among the Arab nomadic pastoralists of Kuwait," and Salim to talk of Ahl Khayun as the "noble clan of Beni Isad" 8 - a tribal group from the marshes of the southern Euphrates. Obviously whoever happens to be shaykh has a number of opportunities to reinforce his position. He is not merely a benign figure-head, unable to make a move without seeking consensus, but rather is in a position to actively command support through combinations of alliances and patronage. However internecine the conflicts among members of the shaykh's minimal lineage may be, the coalescence of this group in the face of efforts to remove the shaykhship from its control is entirely consistent
The Shaykhship and the Dominant Lineage with a point of view, found throughout the Arab world, placing the interests of the family above those of the individual.
On the other hand, in contrast to the tendency toward lineage stratification, the formation and organization of the units of tribal organization do depend on the continuous process of lineal segmentation, and the ideology of the tribal unity rests, by and large, on the shared belief in common descent.": Both the social process and the ideology favor lineage equalitarianism - as do other traditional beliefs and values. Islam itself does not sanction social distinctions within the community of believers. Nothing could be further from the traditional conception of leadership among tribal Arabs than the notion of Divine Right to rule. As all students of traditional Arab societies have noted, qualities such as personal courage, generosity, and luck make a man a leader, rather than any God-given birthright. Salim's description of social stratification among the Beni Isad, while revealing a great deal about the relationship between ascription and achievement in determining social status in this rapidly changing society, nevertheless does not convince one that the traditional position of the noble clan was in fact sanctioned by universal belief in their innate superiority so much as it was a product of well-managed political and eco-
Within the EI Shabana, fixed and unequal landholdings plus
official governmental support have been primarily responsible for the near monopoly of power and wealth enjoyed by the shaykh and his lineage today. While the Sada and certain forms of economic partnerships are still important and effective links between members of differing tribal sections, the loss of land under present conditions, and the general decline in productivity of the land still held by the "average" tribesmen, has obliged more and more men to seek their livelihood outside the tribal domain. The fact that here and elsewhere in southern Iraq more men are constantly being forced to spend most of their lives away from their tribal setting and their fellow tribesmen, returning only part of each year, constitutes perhaps the single most important factor in the declining importance of the tribe. Men simply do not interact as frequently as they did in the past in terms of their position within
the tribal organization.
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Yet, with all of these qualifications, the EI Shabana are not now mere sedentary agriculturalists using terms reminiscent of a tribal past. A world of difference exists between the attitudes and behavior of the men of the EI Shabana and those of the landless farmers who for several generations have been separated from any large grouping of fellow tribesmen. Obviously the majority of the men from the EI Shabana, assembling for feasts, visiting at weddings and funerals, or merely gathering for coffee in the various mudhifs, still regarded themselves as set apart because of their tribal affiliations and drew satisfaction from that identificationeven as many of them recognized some of the inequities now characteristic of their organization.
How can this organization continue to function and have some vitality in the face of evidence that sociologically it has "decayed" or at least is not what it was as an indigenous system? Perhaps the best answer is to recall that the "decay" began relatively recently. The period of radical change began only in 1922 with the establishment of British administration in the southern Euphrates valley. From 1922 to 1958 is sufficient time for many social, political, and economic changes to take place but it is, perhaps, a short time for the dissolution of the basic cultural attitudes and ideals of the tribal system.
Three decades ago, in the nineteen-thirties, the EI Shabana rose in arms against the central government; tribal leaders were sentenced to be hanged but were finally released after imprisonment. This revolt, in providing an opportunity for joint action in the traditional activist sense, helped to strengthen the tribe against the weakening changes already well under way.
Shaykh Mujid, the present shaykh, is after all the first shaykh to come to power under the present conditions. Furthermore, as we shall see in the following chapter, certain of the central government's administrative policies, rather than dividing the tribes further, have actually acted to encourage the people of the Daghara area to continue to think of themselves as "tribal." So also it is conceivable that the more recent struggles in republican Iraq to achieve a new integration of political and social forces may strengthen tribal loyalties as individual politicians reach out for all possible sources of support.
The basic question for the future is whether relations will be
The Shaykhship and the Dominant Lineage between tribe and state, or citizen and administration. In a number of African countries the tribe seems to have gained new importance in the politics of the post-colonial New Nations. But in Iraq it is unlikely that tribes will again assume overt importance on the national scene.P However, so far as the individual tribesman is concerned, the continuing significance of the tribe appears to hinge on the nature of authority as he experiences it in his daily life. The manifestation of local authority can be clearly seen in the operation of the area's irrigation systems, past and present, for the equitable division of water is a basic concern of the entire community. Not only is irrigation a matter of traditional and tribal concern in Iraq but one of national interest and survival.
Changing Patterns of Local Authority:
In the discussion which follows I shall examine some of the ways in which gravity-flow irrigation has been carried out by the tribal cultivators around Daghara over the last several decades. Underlying this discussion is the assumption that understanding how the problems of irrigation have been managed will provide basic insight as to local patterns of authority. Irrigation is essential to agriculture in this region and cultivation is a basic means of subsistence for this population. The nature of irrigation here, involving as it does the digging of canals and the damming of artificial waterways, imposes at least minimum levels of cooperation between those sharing canal systems, while the potential for conflicts of interests between individuals or groups of individuals sharing a limited supply of water is relatively high. On logical grounds alone, then, the operation of an irrigation system would seem to require some degree of both executive and jural authority.'
Although observers have noted that it was first the shaykh, then the British administration, and today the Iraqi government irrigation official who runs the irrigation system, we shall see that the matter is not so simple or clear-cut as this. Around these figures lies a complex web of interrelationships woven over the years which have passed since the origin of tribal cultivation in this region; the warp of physical circumstance and the woof of socio-pol itical systems have become inextricably intertwined.
The tribal organization constitutes the framework for such aspects of contemporary irrigation as are the responsibility of tribesmen. As already observed, conditions in recent yearsparticularly fixed landholdings and outside support for the shaykh - have apparently robbed the tribal system of much of its indige-
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation nous character. The government's assumption of important responsibilities for the local irrigation system has proceeded side by side with changes in the sociological character of the tribe. But tribesmen do still successfully operate parts of the irrigation works. The irrigation problems which remain the responsibility of tribesmen generally arise within shabba and fakhd segments - which are composed of kinsmen; however decayed the system may be, the bonds of kinship still form an important basis for social action within these smaller social units.
To explain the reciprocities between the social and the natural order in the Daghara region, I shall begin by examining customary practices of the tribe associated with both historic and contemporary irrigation. These irrigation practices are related to the question of both traditional and contemporary patterns of authority, and to the changes in the patterns of authority with the advent of outside interference in water supply problems, changes which began with the period of British administration. As we move to questions of power and authority in recent times, an analysis of recorded irrigation disputes which have arisen in the last several years will provide evidence for what seems to be a newly emerging authority.
CUSTOMARY TRIBAL IRRIGATION
In the middle of the nineteenth century, when the EI Shabana first settled in the Daghara region, the area from the mouth of the Daghara canal to the town of Afaq was covered with intermittent areas of marshland.
The El Shabana farmers irrigated by utilizing the waters of the Daghara branch of the Euphrates, their efforts resulting in the canal called the Harunniyya shown in Map 2. While no longer in use owing to government-instigated changes in the canal system, this canal is still in evidence as a dry bed. The following account of its origin is related by informants. Each of the original four shabbas of EI Shabana EI Qadimin (the old EI Shabana)· owned land which lay either next to the Daghara branch or in marsh areas, and thus was suitable for cultivation. When water was needed for irrigation, temporary dams (badkha)" were built on the Daghara and water was flooded over the land and partly directed
Shaykh and Effendi
with ditches. The Harunniyya canal was not dug all at one time, but gradually developed, Each year more earth was added to the banks of an originally modest ditch, and the canal's length was extended by members of the EI Shabana who were interested in increasing the area of land which could be cultivated. The underlying reasons for bringing more land under cultivation through canal irrigation are not known, but possibly these efforts stemmed from some combination of (a) a gradual decrease in marsh area; (b) additions to the EI Shabana by "adoption"; and (c) population increases among the original settled group.
The fact that the Harunniyya canal grew from year to year rather than being dug all at once was strongly emphasized by informants; this canal was not the product of a single concentrated effort. The Harunniyya canal was shared by several shabbas of the El Shabana; if the present residence pattern of the shabbas prevailed at the time the canal was used, it appears that the newer adopted groups acquired land toward the tail of the canal while the original four shabbas of the El Shabana were closer to the mouth of the canal or were situated on the Daghara branch of the Euphrates itself,
Informants state that no pro blem of water division existed among the EI Shabana (except from natural drought) until 1922 when the government began supervising water use on the Daghara, Since the El Shabana land lies near the mouth of the Daghara, until 1922 members of the tribe were able to block the stream and take water as they wished as long as they were strong enough to prevent downstream tribal groups from breaking up their darns." Other ashiras of the EI Aqra, such as the Elbu Sultan and Elbu Nayil, living upstream or across the Daghara from the EI Shabana, may sometimes have fought with the El Shabana over water rights in occasional periods of shortage. But as members of the same sillif, the largest inclusive tribal grouping, the upstream users were linked with the EI Shabana by a common desire to prevent tribal groups of the downstream Afaq area from breaking the dams. Thus a sufficient water supply apparently had a generally positive effect on tribal unity, encouraging the EI Shabana to increase their number through adoption of other shabbas, and providing numerous occasions on which the sections of the tribe joined together for mutual defense.
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation
Shortage of water, on the other hand, seems to have had an opposite effect. I have already noted in reviewing the history of the El Shabana that one water shortage disrupted the tribe: several sections left the land to return to sheepherding or to farm elsewhere. And during the same period of drought, a political revolution occurred in which the present dominant lineage was established and another lineage reduced to a secondary position.'
In the past, fighting to expand landholdings, or to better a group's position with respect to water, was often undertaken by single segments within the ashira or even by an entire ash ira, with· the shaykh as leader." As long as segments of the same ashira were not pitted against one another, no strong social sanctions existed to prevent such fighting. The niza, or dispute which arose, would be arbitrated by the shaykh, if it had taken place between members of the ashira, or by members of a third ashira, if the dispute were between two different ashiras. Intermediaries from the Sada would usually help in the settlement ofsuch disputes.
But as the Harunniyya canal .developed and several sections of the EI Shabana, as well as the shaykh, became more dependent on it, the canal became a constant source of friction between the shaykh and other sections of the tribe. "In those days," the present shaykh's eldest son recalls, "it was dangerous for the shaykh to have large numbers of tribesmen angry with him, so my great-greatgrandfather persuaded the tribesmen to dig another canal, aided by his fallahin." 6 The digging of the second canal, the Lafaliyya, apparently served to reduce tensions between the shaykh and some sections of the tribe by eliminating the source of constant disputation.
Such tensions are less likely today as the national government, in the person of the irrigation engineer, now controls outlets from government-owned canals. But before examining in detail the role of the modern Iraqi government in irrigation, let us look for a moment at the canal system and its operation from the perspective of the tribal cultivators themselves.
THE IRRIGATION SYSTEM
The major parts of the irrigation system in the Dagharaarea are summarized in Map 7. Water comes from the Euphrates via gov- 121
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ernment-controlled canals, including the Daghara canal and the Hurriyya canal, with its north and south branches. The Daghara canal is a natural waterway which has been brought under technical control by the construction of sluice gates and various abutments. It has also been dredged and straightened since the advent of the national irrigation authority in this region. But the Hurriyya canal, completed only in the 1940's, is a totally new addition to the local scene. Water flows from the government-controlled canals into a series of smaller canals. The bada (first off-take from the jadtoal, or main 'canal) distributes water into naharan7 (secondary off-takes) and from them the water may flow into umuds (smaller canals). Umuds frequently run through the center of the low earth walls (jariq) which enclose the small plots of land (lowhj" under cultivation. From umuds, mirriyan (still smaller canals) carry water down the length of a lowh. Sharughs, irrigation furrows, carry water frOID the mirriyan into the lowh, within which the water may be more conveniently controlled. Map 7 illustrates this system.
No single order of canals universally carries water to the fields.
As the diagram shows, a variety of arrangements of canals is possible, depending on the position of a given piece of land relative to the source of water supply. A man whose land is located adjacent to a major canal might take his water directly from the bada. In that case, the sequence of canais would begin with the jadwal and continue with the bada, and the mirriyan would carry the water down the edge of the subdivided field into the irrigation furrows. More frequently, water must travel further from the main canal, so the naharan and other intermediate waterways are necessary.
Along the government-controlled canals, the irrigation engineer runs concrete pipes through the banks, pipes large enough to permit specified amounts of water to escape. The size of the pipe is determined by the area of land which must be supplied relative to the total amount of water available from the main canal. Large areas of land under the ownership of a single man will generally be supplied by one or more pipes. However, as we have seen, there are many owners of small farms in the EI Sha bana area. F or obvious practical reasons, each of the small plots cannot be
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation provided with a separate water outlet from the government canals; therefore it is often necessary to provide a single pipe for several farmers who cultivate in one area.
Responsibility for the upkeep of the system rests both with the Directorate of Irrigation and with the individual users. The irrigation engineer has the legal right to requisition labor from the users of government canals and to raise funds for their cleaning through. special levies. But while local irrigators may be required to contribute their money and efforts to the upkeep of these major canals, all the decision-making responsibility is reserved to the Directorate of Irrigation. After the water leaves the government canal the responsibility for construction and maintenance of canals rests with the cultivator or cultivators. The small canals or umuds are the joint responsibility of all the farmers taking water from them. While technically umuds are owned length by length by each of the farmers whose land they edge, in practice they are treated as the common property of all who depend on them for water.
Irrigation engineers in Iraq differentiate between kharajiya or external distribution of the water supply from the government canals, and dakhiliy'a or internal distribution of the water. Kharajiya distribution is the direct responsibility of the engineer; he must decide on the basis of his maps, records, and observations what is the correct amount of water for each section of land. The internal distribution of water among a group of small landowners who are provided with one pipe is not, technically, the irrigation engineer's responsibility, for it cannot be accomplished directly by an adjustment of outlets from the government canal. The cultivators themselves must allot this supply.
Disputes arising over external distribution must be taken to the irrigation engineer, who may request the chief government administrator in the area to exercise his police powers in case someone refuses to abide by the engineer's decision concerning water from the main canal ..
Internal distribution problems are more complex. In theory, in the case of multiple cultivators using a single pipe, if a mutually satisfactory system of distribution of water and maintenance of joint supply canals cannot be achieved, any man or group of men has the legal right to carry his (or their) grievances in a petition to
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the mudir nahiya. But in practice, this solution is seldom resorted to; cultivators may first appeal to kinsmen, to the shaykh, or even to the irrigation engineer.
IRRIGATION AT THE ASHIRA LEVEL
Members of the subsections of the El Shabana share several social and economic bonds: kinship, identification with named groups, contiguous and sometimes joint landownership,' intermarriage, and often residence within the same hamlets. Intermarriage is more likely and kinship closer between members of the same fakhd than between members of the same shabba (see Table 11). But whether a shab'ba is unsegmented or whether it is composed of two or three fakhds, the members of the same shabba farm and live in the same area of land and frequently reside in the same or proximate hamlets."
Another important bond linking members of the shabba is a common system of field canals, which begins at the off-take from the government-controlled waterway. In some cases a single farmer or brothers may share a pipe; usually more cultivators share a single pipe and in most cases they include users who enjoy membership in the same shabba.
The case of the El Mujarilin, one shabba of the El Shabana, is a good example of the shabba-canal system relationship. The water supply for all El Mujarilin cultivators comes principally from one bada off-take of the Hurriyya canal, which has been, named El Khurays. The EI Khurays off-take is shared by the entire shabba. From the bada El Khurays, the water is distributed through six naharan canals. Each naharan supplies water, through field canals, to a part of the landholding of the subsection. It would be an exaggeration to say that the group sharing a single naharan canal perfectly corresponds to one subdivision of the shabba - a fakhd or a bayt. Yet each naharan is usually found to be shared by close kinsmen. This happens because of the large number of land areas which are registered between brothers, or between brothers and paternal cousins.
Each of the six naharans has been given a name and is allowed to draw water from the EI Khurays canal for a specified number 124
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation
of waqts or periods of time during each agricultural season; One waqt equals the time from sunrise to sunset, or from sunset to sunrise. The number of waqts allotted to each naharan does not change from year to year, but was established in the 1940's when the El Khurays complex was dug, after the completion of the H urri yya canal.
1. Alwiyya naharan receives 4 waqts of water each season
2. Burrimal naharan 4 waqts
3. Ruffiyya naharan 3 waqts
4. Jawba naharan 3 waqts
5. Elbu Sultan naharan 4 waqts
6. Atiyya naharan 2 waqts.
This is a rotating system. For example, the group of farmers on the Burrimal canal is allowed two days, that is four waqts, to accumulate its total water supply. Then they must close their off-take and the next group, the Ruffiyya, has use of the El Khurays water for its appointed time. The sequence in which the naharan will be opened and closed is decided by lot at the beginning of each agricultural season. Some third party is given six sticks,· each stick standing for one of the six canals. The sequence in which the sticks fall determines the order of rotation.
The EI Mujarilin clean their naharan canals twice each year, usually in October, before the winter growing season, and in April, before summer culrivation.l? The period of canal cleaning by shabbas may extend over a period of twenty days, each of the men working as it suits him for perhaps two or three hours per day. EI Mujarilin informants claim that the ownership of land is so split up that most men work on several naharans; one man usuall y farms a few acres of land in several different places and each few acres may be watered by a different sub-canal. However, the approximate amount of work required of each man is generally known among the reported thirty-eight men in the shabba. If a man is feeble or ill or must be away, he can ask his friends and relatives to do his share of the work for him. If, however, he neglects his responsibility, he will not be allowed to take water in the forthcoming growing season.'! .
The system of irrigation canals is slightly different in the case of the shabba Elbu Ubayd, whose landholdings are shown in part 125
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on Map 5. The two fakhds of the Elbu Ubayd have land which is more perfectly contiguous for each group. That is, members of one fakhd farm one area of land and members of the other fakhd farm a second though contiguous section. Their principal source canal is the Daghara itself and water from it passes first through one fakhd's land area and from there into the second. The entire shabba is responsible for maintaining the bada off-take, but as we shall shortly see, this arrangement has been a source of dispute within the shabba. The men say, "ihna thlathin; nakhud mayy minn jadwal wahid" (we are thirty men taking water £rom a single canal). They are obviously not pleased with the situation.
The El Shawahin and the EI Ghrush shabbas of the EI Shabana demonstrate still another arrangement of social groupings vis-a-vis water supply. In this case, both shabbas share a single outlet with a small hamlet of Sada. The Sada were given their land, not by the EI Shawahin or the EI Ghrush, but by the shaykh of the ashira some two generations ago. When informants were asked to name the shabbas of the El Shabana, beginning with those having the best water supply, and proceeding to the group with the least favorable water supply, the EI Shawahin and the El Ghrush shabbas were consistently listed as being in the least favorable position. The ground cultivated by these two groups is high and other sections of their area are salted, so that the farming situation is also unfavorable for reasons other than water supply. From these two groups combined, only about twenty to thirty-five men at- . tempt to cultivate the land. Each shabba section is responsible for digging its own section of the bada off-take canal, but again, this arrangement is the source of much disputation in contemporary times.
Informants from the Elbu Khaz'al, the largest shabba of the EI Shabana still living in one place, tell an interesting history of their canal system. This shabba section includes three fakhd subsections. One fakhd has a pipe and bada to itself, while the two others share a canal. The names of the two canals are Qatb and Abu Dahab.P A discussion which took place in the Elbu Khaz'al mudhif revealed that originally the entire shabba worked together on a single canal. Then a serious fight over water occurred and a group of brothers, sons of a man named Zarzur, insisted on
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation establishing their own canal. EI Zarzur is now the proper name of one of the fakhds. This dispute and the subsequent separation of the water supply into two canals took place at the same time that the sons of Zarzur set themselves apart from the parent organization and thus created a third fakhd in this shabba. The connection between the creation of a new canal and a new fakhd was con-
sidered obvious by the tribesmen. "
The positions of several shabbas with respect to the canal system" have been cited. Table 15 summarizes the available information on shabba ownership of canals. Shabbas are listed in order of the excellence of their position in relation to water supply: the order was unanimously agreed upon by informants.
Table 15 shows that most shabbas of the EI Shabana have at least one major off-take canal from the government-controlled waterways. The cultivators themselves are responsible for dividing water from these off-takes between the members of shabbas, and for digging and maintaining the smaller field canals. It must be emphasized, however, that these cultivators do not each year establish a new canal system and redistribute their water. Once a system of field canals has been dug it commonly remains unaltered season after season and the allocations of water to the various sections of the system, once established, are largely taken for granted. T'ribesmen regard problems of water distribution between themselves as unimportant compared with their joint concern with having an adequate allocation of water from the government.
As may be seen from the above description, the system of small canals and walled fields maintained and managed by tribesmen is complex and requires experienced attention to remain adequate for the needs of crop irrigation. Under these conditions, the members of each shabba must cooperate in this basic subsistence activity. Sharing the same canal system - as well as occupying the same area of land - must surely be a condition of life which tends to limit any possible active hostility between fakhds. From a structuralistic point of view, the common canal system within a shabba may be another factor which contributes to the confounding of principles of segmentary organization. While the fakhd segmentations within certain shabbas have apparently occurred since the El Shabana settled near Daghara, concern with and dependence
upon the same canal system - as well as occupation of the same area of land - may have limited the consequences of these divisions.
"What do you do if someone refuses to clean his section of the canal?" "What happens if someone takes more water than that to which he is entitled?" The initial response of almost all informants to such questions was, "Such problems do not arise for we are all brothers." As we shall see, this is not true; disputes over water are a common occurrence. What is important about the reply is that it points to values which define as culturally good the unity of the tribal subsections. Avisitor to the mudhif of a fakhd (or to that of a shabba if there is a mudhif which shabba members share) will find it very difficult to elicit an admission that any issue divides or ever has divided the members of that group. Members of a fakhd or shabba find it important to keep their quarrels to themselves; there is a suggestion of shame in the idea of bringing intra-sectional differences to the attention of outsiders for it con-
stitutes a public admission of weakness. Thus undoubtedly a very I
great percentage of disputes over water is resolved within the context of the primary tribal sections.
In the subsections (groups of from 20 to 50 men) the differentiation of status is not based upon an institutionalized hierarchy of authority but primarily upon position in the kinship system. No
status within the kinship structure carries more than very limited authority and this falls off rapidly as social distance increases; traditionally, a father exercises unquestioned authority over his
wife and children, but any authority which he may have over his
sons' collaterals is a function of the content of his relationship to
his own sibling group and collateral kinsmen. It is, in a sense, only
with their permission that he may give orders to their offspring.
While at every point in the kinship structure respect is character-
istic of the attitudes of younger toward older men (except between
the very young and the very old), being treated with respect in this
society is by no means equivalent to being able to command, ex-
cept in limited areas of public social etiquette. Within the fakhds
and even the shabbas of the tribe, most disputes are solved, not by
the word of anyone man, but through the processes of consensus
- including conversation and group discussion among men Who
are, after all, linked to each other on so many grounds as fre-
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation quently to make "self-interest" almost synonymous with "groupinterest." To be sure, observation of group discussions revealed some men being listened to more than others and some men scarcely speaking at all. Yet the greater influence of a given man is, I believe, mainly a result of historical accident which may, for instance, have resulted in his owning a comparatively greater amount of land, or such accidents of temperament as permit one man rather than another to express more fully and eloquently a culturally-valued personal behavior. In short, within subsections of a tribe men do not appear to command but rather to influence one another. Such patterns of authority as may exist are not part of an ongoing system of institutionalized statuses, but rather the result of economic differences and of group interaction within the framework of the kinship system.
But what of conflicts which, in spite of cultural norms, cannot be resolved within a subsection; and what of conflict over water between subsections? The nature of these conflicts and their disputation today is most revealing, not only of the dynamics of the social system I have described, but also of pervasive and important changes in both the internal structure of this system and its relation to its social environment. In order to provide additional perspective for this analysis, it will be useful to focus attention briefly on ashira~wide authority, on the years spent under British rule, and then on the period of growing involvement by the national government in the Daghara area. It was during the latter years that the tribesmen began to see choices rather than imperatives in deciding how to solve problems related to irrigation. At the same time, it was during the period from the beginning of British control to the present day that, because of outside control over supply canals, natural drought, and limitations on self-help, the irrigation problems of the cultivator-tribesmen increased rapidly in both quantity and complexity.
IRRIGATION WITHIN THE TRIBAL SECTIONS
Although today no common cultivation is undertaken by the ashira as a whole, ashira-wide cooperation to insure a sufficient water supply for irrigation still takes place. When it is necessary
to clean one of the; huge canals used principally by the shaykh and secondarily by other tribesmen owning small sections of land, the shaykhcalls for awna or musa'ada. Both terms may be translated as "aid" or "help." Canals, depending on their size and use, must be cleaned before both winter cultivation and summer farming. To rally forces for the awna, the shaykh sends forth a wakil or representative (in one instance, his eldest son together with a respected Sayid), The wakil and the Sayid travel to the various hamlets of El Shabana shabbas, announcing the day on which the canal will be cleaned and asking that the shabba send all available men to help the shaykhs's fallahin dig the silt from the canal. In mudhifs of the shabbas the Sayid reminds the men of the past glories of the EI Shabana under the leadership of the shaykh's lineage and urges that it is the duty of the shabba members to help the shaykh.
On the appointed day, representatives of the shaykh meet each shabba of the tribe as they arrive for the awna, and assign to them particular portions of the canal. Each man is given a section of canal, measured off by lengths of a mesha (shovel handle), from which to dig out the accumulated silt. The general expectation is that in one day each tribesman will be able to clean a section of canal about fifteen feet long, three feet wide, and a foot and a half deep. This is arduous work as the silt must be tossed to the top of banks which are already piled high with formerly accumulated silt.
The cleaning of the canal may last several days, depending on its size and the number of men who appear for work. Customarily a tribesman will contribute his labor only one or two days. The work which remains unfinished - and this will vary depending on the number of tribesmen who have turned out for the musa'ada - is completed by the fallahin of the shaykh and his brothers who are, of course, forced to work.
The shaykh rides out to the canal during the cleaning, exchanging salutations and passing out cigarettes to those at work. He checks with his representatives who superintend the project and who must carefully record the name of everyone who has come to help. The shaykh then speaks with men from each of the tribal sections who are represented to find out why more men have not come; he often inquires after certain individuals by name. He
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation exchanges banter and small talk with the tribesmen, and provides a lunch of bread and cucumbers.
On what basis can the shaykh claim the labor of small landholding tribesmen for his canal cleaning? Several factors are in operation here. By tradition, the income from some part of the shaykh's large holding supports the tribal mudhif. Part of the shaykh's land produces food which is served daily in the mudhif to guests and tribesmen. Therefore, some informants argued, it follows that the tribesmen should help clean the canals which provide water to irrigate mudhif land. However, it is doubtful if many tribesmen take this argument seriously. The simplest explanation lies in the fact that it is potentially dangerous or at least disadvantageous for any tribesman to be out of favor with the shaykh. The shaykh is still in a position to grant or refuse many sorts of favors, due to his unique relationship to the non-tribal world. As his younger brother stated, "If you visited a man or sat down next to him in a coffee shop and he didn't provide you with tea, would you serve him tea when he came to visit you?"
But the pattern of behavior associated with the appearance of men from the same shabba at the site of the musa'ada for cleaning the shaykh's canal, suggests something else, something of traditional attitude and precedent underlying this ashira-wide effort. Tribal sections arrive on horseback in full regalia - guns held aloft, knives roped on. Flags of different colors bearing religious inscriptions are carried by men in each section. Enthusiastic hosas are often performed before the men, somewhat anticlimactically it seems, tie up their long garments and jump into the silt-clogged canals to begin work. The arrival, the dress, the hosa performance, are much the same sort of behavior as occurs on the occasion of ashira feasting. Informants agreed that in "the old days" similar activity took place when the ashira gathered for attack or defense in warfare.
Furthermore, in the past when the shaykh requested the support of the tribal sections for purposes of war or raid, this "asking for aid" was also called musa'ada, The shaykh's sending out of wakils and Sada to the other sections of the tribe was similarly part of the pre-warfare pattern of behavior. Gathering of the ashira for purposes of canal cleaning appears then to be reasonably closely
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related to cultural patterns associated with past cooperation by ashira members for purposes of armed combat. The accommodation of this precedented behavior (the roots of which must tap a far longer history than the eighty or so years of sedentary existence which this group has known) to the demands of irrigation is an . interesting adaptation for a segmentary organization. It suggests that inclusive segmentary groupings may be capable of a more constructive social action than mere "opposition" to groupings of similar size and composition.
The oral history of the tribesmen records two major tribal canals; Map 2 shows one of these. There is no evidence to indicate that the El Shabana ever depended solely on these two canals, nor that these canals were completed in one season by a massive expression of tribal labor. However, local traditions do record that the ashira semi-annually participated in canal cleaning projects under the leadership of the shaykh. The fact that contemporary musa'adas for canal cleaning have certain ritual characteristics suggests that the institution is not a contemporary innovation.
Contrary to expectations, the total amount of time devoted to the cleaning of canals is remarkably small. In response to the frequently asked question "How many days do you spend cleaning irrigation canals?" most informants said seven or eight days, some mentioned longer periods of time but said they worked only two or three hours a day over a twenty-day period. Men of the area do not attach very much importance to the work, nor does the work appear to be a burden. The shaykh's canal, which was fed by a 342-cubic-meter-of-water-per-second capacity pipe, accumulated from a foot and a half of silt a year near its head to six or seven inches of silt near the tail, but the total amount varied per winter season depending on the amount of rainfall and the amount of mud which had washed back into the canal from its silt-piled banks. A large number of men can quickly clean this canal, which is perhaps half a mile to one mile long. But it would be impossible for only a few men to clean a canal of such size in the interim between agricultural seasons. To this day, though the traditional position of the shaykh has changed considerably through the interference of the government, the shaykh is forced to depend upon ashira-wide aid to successfully complete his canal cleaning.
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation
Just as the shaykh depends on the tribe, the tribesmen also depend on the shaykh to resolve certain problems associated with irrigation. As I have noted, decision-making within any section of the tribe is not a prerogative exclusively associated with institutionalized statuses, but is more generally the outcome of consensual processes among individuals sharing not only presumably common values but also ties of consanguinity, conjugality, and locality, as well as common interests in land and water. In this tribal system, the specialized authority-bearing status exists at a more inclusive segmentary grouping, the ashira, in the status of shaykh, and at the most inclusive segmentary level, the sillif, in the position of ra'is. What are the characteristics of the status-role "shaykh"?
The shaykh of an ash ira has no religious functions and no sacred quality is attached to the position: the status is not validated by religious sanctions, and individuals occupying the position are not protected any more than any other tribesman by injunctions based on religious norms. The, shaykhship is not limited to any one descent group, nor is the status occupied by any particular sequence of individuals within a descent group. Informants reiterate that the shaykhship passes to the eldest son "only if the tribe wants him": in practice, cases may be found where it has passed to siblings, uncles, cousins, or anyone of a series of sons of a given shaykh. The position of shaykh must be achieved, although the eldest son of the current shaykh is traditionally regarded as a candidate for the position by the tribe and has an advantage in that he may build on the usually superior economic position of his father. However, before the days when government recognition constituted the de facto achievement of shaykh status, tradition· records that bitter struggles frequently occurred when a tribal shaykh died, struggles which often resulted in the permanent divi-
. sian of a segmentary grouping. The history of the EI Shabana demonstrates that several sections of the ashira have at different times been the "dominant lineage" carrying the shaykhship. The present shaykh of the EI Shabana and several members of his lineage remain totally unreconciled because of events which led to the present shaykh's acquisition of this position.
Today it is obvious from observation that the status of the shaykh carries considerable symbolic importance. The guest of 133
Shaykh and Effendi
the shaykh is the guest of the ashira; the protection granted by the shaykh secures the stranger from tribal hostility; the feast offered by the shaykh is considered an ash ira feast; the grand display of the shaykh demonstrates the wealth and position of the tribe. As the representative of the tribe, the shaykh must perform no demeaning tasks. On the contrary, he is supposed to be an incarnation of manly virtue; proud, brave, virile, generous, wise, and a defender and faithful practitioner of the faith. It is his symbolic importance, the status characteristic of being a kind of ideal Everyman in the eyes of the tribesmen, which makes possible the great contrast, often noted by students of Bedouin culture, between the lavish display and style of life of the shaykh and the apparently impoverished condition of the ordinary tribesman.
The traditional standards of behavior required of a shaykh cannot be fully realized, however, if the opportunity for him to exhibit customary virtues is lacking. Unquestionably a major oppor~ tunity for the tribal shaykh to exhibit socially important qualities such as bravery and political acumen lay in leading his tribesmen in raids and warfare. Raids and warfare were, as already noted, the major activities shared by the segments of an ashira, whether in protection of land and water or in the acquisition of new territory. The son of the present shaykh wrote, in answer to a question about raiding, that raids were often made for purposes of acquiring more land, either because it was needed or because a tribe was strong and simply wanted to exercise its power. His voluntary mention of this deliberate quality of tribal warfare seems significant in this context. Particularly for the shaykh, but also for an tribesmen, fighting offered a unique opportunity to behave according to standards of conduct characteristic of a man. If this hypothesis is correct, it may explain why, in a time when shaykhs are notably unpopular, the shaykh of the El Shabana is still the object of pride, respect, and loyalty among some tribesmen. For this shaykh, his brothers, his father, and his grandfather, have all led or been involved in revolts, first against the Turks, then the British, and finally against the government of an independent Iraq. The dictum, "a leader must lead," appears to fit this situation per~· fectly once we have considered what the cultural requisites of leadership may be.
On deductive grounds, if it is accepted that we are dealing with
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation
a segmentary organization, and a status of shaykh which is achieved, not ascribed, the shaykh must remain vulnerable if he is to exercise authority among his tribesmen. As Middleton and Tait note, political authority may not be vested in status attached to lineages or the fundamental principle of segmentary opposition is contravened.P In the case of the El Shabana, the process of becoming shaykh appears to have resulted in placing some members of the shaykh's lineage group in a comparatively privileged position (which led me to refer to his lineage as "dominant"), but it also resulted in the alienation and ostracism of other members of his group. The tribe's oral history records three changes in the shaykhship; at each change, the shaykhship was filled by men from entirely different shabbas and fakhds of the ashira.
If a status must be achieved, it may also be lost. Ultimately, the test of whether a man should be shaykh is whether he can be shaykh, whether he is capable of gaining and holding the position. Thus the present shaykh was able to usurp the position from his father before his death without incurring negative social sanction, for apparently the father had grown incapable of exercising the duties of the role and could not prevent his son from gaining the tribesmen's support. Today no tribesman is willing to state who might become shaykh in the future. The attitude is generally expressed as, "it will work itself out, who knows now?"
In contrast to the Sada, whose religious qualifications bulwark their traditional peacemaking functions, the shaykh's activities as a warrior-leader lent strength to his decisions in times of peace. Pax Britannica put a stop to the exercise of leadership in warfare, one of the major ways in which the shaykh or would-be shaykh had demonstrated his ability to ideally fulfill culturally valued norms of conduct. At the same time, the policy of indirect rule meant that the shaykh was expected to exercise other aspects of the behavior associated with his role - principally the jural functions which were earlier mentioned. Recognizing that the shaykh had traditionally sat in judgment over individuals guilty of socially proscribed behavior and had arbitrated disputes between tribal sections, the British utilized cooperative shaykhs in this capacity to carry out their own policies and enforce regulations. In return, the British supported the shaykh both directly and indirectly by enforcing peace and suppressing tribal "rebellions." But, whereas
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past judgments 6£ the shaykh had enforced culturally defined and traditional norms, and whereas the course of arbitration had carefully included the development of support within the tribe for his decisions, the shaykh, as an arm of the administration, was placed in the position of enforcing regulations which often totally lacked any basis in tradition. Being required to carry out jural duties without having opportunities to demonstrate those qualities which traditionally permitted him to assume jural responsibilities in the first place, gradually undermined rather than strengthened the shaykh's authority among the tribesmen.P
THE BRITISH ADMINISTRATION AND THE IRRIGATION SYSTEM
The British began their occupation of the Daghara region in 1918 and British officers first visited the area in September of that year. No time was lost in creating an irrigation district; this was accomplished in November 1918. About the Daghara waterway, Gertrude L. Bell wrote:
This important canal, taking off from the Euphrates between Hillah and Samawah, feeds what was and is one of the most fertile areas in Mesopotamia - the Babylonian city of Nippur lies in its basin. For years the Turks have had no authority in this region; the canal was lined with the mud forts of the shaykhs and for some months after we took over, tribal feuds continued to menace the British peace. . 15
What was the nature of the "British peace" in southern Iraq?
In point of fact, over the greater part of Mesopotamia it was not the Turkish judicial authorities who had regulated the relations between man and men or assigned the penalties for breaches in their observances. Behind all legal paraphernalia lay the old sanctions, understood and respected because they were the natural outcome of social needs. The shaykh in his tent heard the plaint of petitioners seated around his coffee hearth and gave his verdict with what acumen he might possess, guided by a due regard for tribal custom; the local sayid, strong in his reputation for a greater familiarity than that of other men with the revealed ordinances of the Almighty, and yet stronger in the wisdom brought by long experience in arbitration, delivered his awards on disputes grave or trivial and the decisions thus reached were gener~ ally consonant with natural justice and always comformable with the habits of thought of the contending parties.
This system of local justice was recognized by us to be a strong 136
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation weapon on the side of order and good conduct. Just as it was the habit of the British military governors, when hearing cases, to call in the Mukhtars, headmen of the town quarters, and ask them to take part in the proceedings, so the Political Officers turned to the shaykhs of tribe and village and obtained their opinion. This practice was extended by an enactment called the "Tribal Disputes Regulation," issued with the approval of the Army Commander in February 1916.16
Thus by the time British military authorities entered the Daghara area in an administrative capacity, the pattern of "indirect rule," long familiar to students of British colonialism elsewhere in the world, had already been set tIp as the policy to be utilized in Mesopotamia.
When the irrigation district which included the Daghara canal area was formed, the irrigation officer could act independently of the chief political officer. As Miss Bell writes:
Local irrigation officers possessed the power of inflicting small punishments, without reference to the local Political Officers, for breach of irrigation regulations or a failure to fulfil orders with regard to embankments, etc.; yet the delinquent might be a man whom it was advisable from a political point of view to handle with caution, and in any case the existence of separate organizations issuing orders was confusing to the native mind.F
However, Miss Bell reports, this situation continued "smoothly" until 1919 when peaceful conditions allowed handing over irrigation and agriculture to civil authorities.
The irrigation authorities were no less anxious to strengthen the hand of tribal shaykhs than were other officers of the British administrative staff. Observing from practice what others have suggested in theory, Miss Bell notes:
The provision of an irrigation staff and the offer of advances of seed were not in themselves sufficient to secure cultivation. Irrigation demands cooperation, and combined effort is possible only where there is control. Three years of war [the Anglo-Turkish war in Mesopotamia] had left tribal cultivators more independent than ever. There were tribes, such as the Hubur, on the Hillah canal below Hillah, split into sections, the sarkals of which were disinclined torecognize any shaykh. There were others, such as the Albu Sultan, who recognized their shaykh, but were openly disobedient. It uias, therefore, a point of policy to restore the power of sarkals and shaykhs, and the Agricultural Development Scheme was most successful in areas where this control was most firmly established.l" (Italics rnine.)
Shaykh and Effendi
Captain C. K .. Daly, Chief Political Officer for the Diwaniyya district, which includes the Daghara region, speaks directly about the El Shabana:
The Shabana, numbering about 1,500 fighting men, cultivate on the Shatt id-Daghara left bank, opposite Daghara town. Shaykh Sha'Ian al Atiyah has the tribe well in hand, is popular, and has a high reputation for straightforwardness. He has been consistently well-behaved and helpful since the occupation.P
This report lists the other ashiras in the region and is consistently critical of their leadership. Sha'Ian was the only shaykh who was fully approved.
Another administrator (unidentified, but perhaps Daly) in writing from the Diwaniyya district, says:
I am very strongly of the opinion that it is sounder to leave the distribution [of water] from all except the main canals almost entirely to the Arabs themselves, even at the cost of a certain amount of waste to start with, rather than entrust it to subordinates who will certainly involve our administration in a great deal of odium.P?
The utilization of what was presumed to be the traditional system of political controls in the cause of peace (and irrigation) was apparently born not only of practicality but also of pious hopes. The same writer remarks:
With the establishment of the Pax Brittannica through the length and breadth of Iraq, the tribe will cease to be a necessity to the individual- he wil1live in peace and security and reap the fruit of his toil, not because he is a Bani Hasan or an Albu Sultan, but because he is a civis Brittanicus. Given a continuance of British government in Iraq, this process of disintegration of the tribal system cannot be long delayed; but meantime the tribe is as essential to the Government as it formerly was to the individual, and before the tribal system disappears it is to be hoped that the present Effendi class will have been replaced by officials selected from the best that both tribe and town has to give, and the "best" of the tribe should be very promising material.P-
The tribal system never ceased to be "essential" to the British administration, and as of 1958, had not ceased to be useful to the administration of the Iraq government. Tribal codes persisted which included the shaykh in the official administrative policy; the surkals in the Daghara region were largely "appointed" by the shaykh at the insistence of the Government in order to have some-
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation one who could be held responsible from groups smaller than an ashira. As late as 1958, these mett were called in by the mudir nahiya, when an investigation of some offense was under way or to cast a "fixed" ballot in the bogus elections held in the country.
How, then, did British officials eXercise their duties in the light of their policy of "indirect rule"; how did practice compare with theory? Evidence suggests that some British administrators behaved in such a way as to acquire locally validated authority by taking an active part in local affairs in spite of the avowed policy of "indirect rule." The diary and letters of one British administrator in the mid-Euphrates area is at least suggestive of what might have occurred in the Daghara install.ce.
The record left by James SaUltlarez Mann (1893-1920) and edited by his father, is that of a YaUng Oxford-trained Englishman, wounded in Europe during World War I and subsequently sent as a political officer to a remote area of Iraq (Shamiyya) in the service of the British Mesopo~amian Forces. Shamiyya lies in the same province as Daghara, and is occupied by tribal farmers dependent on irrigation, principally fOr rice cultivation.
Mann's records, consisting of letters to his family and friends, are not the accounts of a deliberate, objective observer, nor is there any reason why they should be. Rather, they describe the frustration and prejudices of an OUtsider, isolated from his own countrymen and attempting to carry out duties foreign to himself and foreign to those with whom he was dealing. Principally, he was expected to keep the peace, and at the same time raise food production in order to avoid famine and provide a source of taxation. A great many of his problems Were related to irrigation.
I have been having a terrific time lately, and on two or three occasions longed to be able to run awa.y and hide. At times one really dreads to go into the office, and for fOur hours or so on end to have a stream of plaintiffs and defen~ants, One saying, "If this canal remains open, all my crops will be rumed, but I will obey your orders": and the other, "If this canal be closed, I shan't get any crops at all, but I await your orders and will obey them" _ and then one has to give one's orders! 22
Another time, he records:
During my hearing of a quarr~l the other day between a shaykh and one of his relatives, the latter said to him, "Well you ate the father of
Shaykh and Effendi
the tribe, and you ought to ... " etc" "No, no," saith the shaykh, "the A.P.O. is our father, he is the father of the whole; and we are all his obedient children." Today I was hearing another similar dispute In which both sides were trying to make a very favourable impression.
A: "Let the A.P.O. decide; his intellect is more powerful than ours;"
B: "More powerful than oursl Why, he has to govern all the people from Kifi to Shymiiya (forty miles) it must be that his intellect is more powerful than the intellects of all his subjects put together." To such remarks I duly ejaculate "Astaghfir Ullah," which means literaIIy "I ask pardon of God," and is the polite way of acknowledging a compliment, and wish I had someone with whom to laugh over these humours.P
N at all of the disputes which came to his attention could be resolved in his office. In many instances he was required to ride out to inspect irrigation works and settle tribal disputes on the spot. On one such trip he noted that the dispute he was required to settle had, in 1913, resulted in an inter-tribal fight between the Fatla and the Humaydat ashiras, during which thirty-five men had been killed. The nexus of the dispute lay in whether a certain local canal should or should not be opened for irrigation by the Humaydat. In a letter describing a typical day's work, Mann notes a less dramatic but typical irrigation problem:
I rode to see a place where one tribe wanted to dig a new head to an irrigation channel in someone else's land. He of course protested loudly that he would be ruined, and talkedvery loudly and very stupidly; and after a fruitless argument and a fairly close inspection, I turned him down and gave them leave to carryon, subject to some fairly strict guarantees in the interest of the owner of the land. There is a day's
work for yoU.24
Because of the nature of the writings, it is only possible, through quotations, to suggest the character of Mann's work and the way he went about it. What is obvious is that he did not by any means leave all local decisions up to the shaykhs, but was both available as a source of appeal from shaykhl y judgments and made many decisions entirely on his own account. Of his relationship to the
shaykh and surkal, he says:
Of the 30 per cent that we take [from agricultural produce] we repay to all shaykhs and surkals three per cent on the whole (leaving our net takings only 27%), as a kind of reward for punctual payment and general good behaviour, and in return we bind .thern over to arrest crim-
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation inals and do the public works that we from time to time require of them. This latter arrangement, while in principle very bad for a lot of reasons too complicated to explain, is exceedingly useful at times, and certainly strengthens our hold on the head men.25
In speaking of a visit to a tribal gathering upon the death of their shaykh:
His sons are quite the nastiest people in Shamiyah, and are quarrelling bitterly about the inheritance ... besides which there is great rivalry as to who will be the next shaykh, an appointment which lies in my hands.s"
The entire account of Mann's experience in the Shamiyya district shows that a great percentage of his time was taken up in the settlement of tribal disputes, stemming not only from his own program of public works but also from the traditional segmentary opposition of tribal groups. This is a state of affairs which might have been hypothesized from what has already been stated. To the degree that the traditional basis of shaykhly authority, and in fact the basis for achieving the status of shaykh, had been eliminated, the judgments of the shaykh began to have increasingly less force. N ow it was the political officer (who was given the Arabic name Hakim) which means the "giver of decisions") to whom individuals and groups turned for the settlement of disputes, and not in all cases because they were forced to do so. Mann cites one apparently common situation:
As an example of a silly piece of trouble of a kind aroused daily by our double position as supporters of the tribal system and at the same time lovers of justice, here is a case which has given me some annoyance. I have one tract of land occupied by pieces of several tribes, who before my time were invited and compelled to elect a shaykh to themselves. This they did, and the choice fell on a respectable harmless little man called Ali al Hasan Agha, a loyal subject but not a strong character, and of no special family or warlike claims. However, there he is, and as shaykh has to be supported.s"
When no individual from any tribal section was permitted by circumstances to garner support of tribesmen through behavior which exhibited traditional virtues, it appears that tribesmen chose the most innocuous and least offensive individual. Such individuals exercised no real authority and essentially left the tribe without leadership. It was then the task of the British to
Shaykh and Effendi
support such men in the smallest details of daily life; the remainder of the story cited above tells how this shaykh came in to Mann for help in collecting a trifling debt from some fellow tribesman.s"
Mann states in a letter to the London Nation "the force with which I govern my somewhat unruly subjects consists of thirty-six thoroughly unreliable native police; yet my orders are always carried out." 29 Mann goes on to say that this is probably because of the presence of the British armed forces in Baghdad. This could explain why his orders were obeyed; it does not explain why problems in increasing numbers were voluntarily brought to him for solution. It is possible that this latter development can be explained by the fact that, because of the active role he took in community life, Mann's power began to have the cast of socially validated authority. Certainly this development was limited; it would be unlikely that Mann was able or cared to meet local normative standards in all respects. Yet in his travels through his district he behaved with considerable courage, so far as can be judged from his account, and was quite scrupulous to avoid locally objectionable behavior. The account as a whole indicates that he developed a close personal following among some of the tribal groups, a following which supported him in a revolt in 1920 in which he was killed.
As a final observation concerning the role of the British administrator in southern Iraq, it is surprising to find as late as 1957 the reputation of men like Captain Daly (who was in the Daghara area) still bright among local tribesmen. Many stories were told about the courage and wisdom of Daly, and while he was ultimately recognized as an enemy, he was well respected as a man.
THE PRESENT GOVERNMENT AND THE IRRIGATION SYSTEM
The line of petitioners which formed outside the office of the British administrator requesting that he solve water disputes did not cease to form after the foreigners were replaced by Iraqi officials. Today the local irrigation engineer meets a group of tribesmen as he steps outside his door "in the morning to go to his nearby office, and he must turn still other tribesmen out as he closes his
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation door at the end of a day's work. After visits not only to the district irrigation office in Daghara, but also to many others throughout the Middle Euphrates area in the Hilla and Diwaniyya provinces, the impression is inescapable that the bulk of the irrigation engineer's work lies in attempting to adjust relations between his fellowmen.
Most of the irrigation engineer's clients want more water. But the way in which they want the water varies considerably. In some cases men want their water supply increased directly from the government canal; in such common instances they see the granting or denial of their requests as a feature of their relationship to the Government, not to their neighbors or distant users of the canal who in each case would be affected only very slightly by a single increase. In other situations, men want more water at the expense of their neighbors through a redistribution of the water they may share. Whatever the nature and ultimate disposition of the problem, the irrigation engineer is involved in a constant round of interpersonal relations in which, by persuasion and force, he must exercise his duty by equitably' dividing the water available from governmen t canals.
A fair picture of the range and content of irrigation problems which may face the engineer may be seen in the case histories presented in Appendix III. The case histories in Appendix III as well as the numerical analysis in Tables 16 and 17 are based almost entirely on the written records of the irrigation engineer and the mudir nahiya from 1953 to 1957. However, these petitions represent only the smallest fraction of the problems brought to both these men. To file a petition is both expensive and dangerous; it exposes those involved in the dispute to the possibility of fine or imprisonment. Probably 80 percent of the irrigation problems brought to the government are not formally presented by petition but rather are less formally recited to the engineer or administrator.
Many disputes still remain a matter of internal tribal politics and are not taken to the engineer. The tendency of men within a lineage to deny that a dispute exists or ever existed between themselves over irrigation or anything else has already been noted. When pressed, tribesmen reported that problems which could not be solved among themselves were taken "to the shaykh: definitely
Shaykh and Effendi
this was the socially preferable thing to do. However, such prob~ lerns as were brought to the shaykh or to one of his wakils from men of the same fakhd or shabba were not loudly aired before the tribesmen and non tribesmen who might have been in the mudhif, but were privately discussed with the person chosen as muhakkim. Public discussion of a problem took place only when it involved a dispute between two different shabbas who shared the same pipe and the same non-governmental canal system; but, as has been seen, relatively few groups are in this position and the problems between them have been built into the situation for so long that more formal discussion hardly seemed worthwhile.P?
The basic design of the irrigation system and the relation of tribal groupings generally precludes inter-ashira water disputes from occurring. The majority of those which do occur are between the individual larger landowners, mostly relatives of the shaykh. But, given the presumed decline in the authority of the shaykh, one might assume that more irrigation problems would have been taken voluntarily to the engineer in recent years than to the shaykh. Curiously enough, this was not demonstrably the case.
The shaykh is now prohibited from exhibiting the "personal charisma" with which shaykhly status is achieved; and tribesmen's attitudes toward the shaykh do not indicate that anything like a "routinization of charisma" has taken place, but tribesmen cultivators still do not decisively turn to a second power source, the
, government officials, with their problems.
Loyalty to the shaykh and belief in his authority does not constitute a feature of primary importance in the viability of the tribal organization. Rather, belief in customary practices which can only be exercised, in some cases, by going to the shaykh seems to be more important. The tribesmen conceive of themselves as set apart from and superior to the other members of the community. To make a public exhibition of disputes within the tribe over a trifling matter like water is definitely not socially sanctioned. This is not to say that disputes are not carried outside the tribe for arbitration; they are frequently taken to the government. But among the EI Shabana, this is still definitely not approved behavior. Furthermore, traditional methods of settling traditional problems are in ~any cases preferred to the technical solutions of irrigation problems which the engineer might offer. There is
j 1 j
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation some basis for saying that the shaykh today exercises the "traditionalist authority" of which Max Weber speaks, based on the "attitude-set for the habitual work-day and . . . the belief in the every-day routine as an inviolable norm of conduct." 31 "Inviolable" is, of course, too strong a term for this situation, but something of traditionalist authority still does appear today to attach to the role of the shaykh.
Despite the fact that airing water disputes is not yet socially sanctioned behavior among the EI Shabana, and statistical evidence does not show a turn toward the engineer and away from the shaykh, other evidence suggests that this trend may in fact exist. The strongest indication stems from a conversation with the irrigation engineer, who volunteered the following observation:
When I first came here in 1953 I had to be careful to establish that I would not give more water to large owners in return for money. It was very difficult at first but fortunately the Chief Engineer in Diwaniyya agreed with me. However, in the last years many people have come to me with problems of "inside distribution" which are not my responsibility. They want me to look at "inside" canal systems and decide how the water should be divided. [Question: "Do you agree to do such work?"] Sometimes I agree; it depends on how I feel. However, if I do it too often I am afraid more and more will come and I already have too much work with the "outside" problems.P
Interestingly, the irrigation engineer was well respected in the Daghara area among all but the large landowners. It was with this man, of all the members of the local administration, that tribesmen had the closest contact. Tribesmen considered him sharii (honest) and gave him credit for being free from the influence of any of the local wealthy men." But from the conversation quoted above, as well as later discussions, it became apparent that the engineer was not interested in regularly accepting more than his official responsibilities. He was overwhelmed by the number of tribesmen coming to him with requests and problems involving the distribution of water from government canals, and there was little to encourage him to increase the area of his responsibility by assuming new tasks of "internal distribution" which were not part of his official responsibility.
The mudir nahiya's official duties in Daghara also required him to hear complaints between users of water. When such complaints 145
Shaykh and Effendi
came to him, he would frequently request the advice of the engineer, which the engineer would give if he were able to take time to look into the situation. It was, however, common practice for the mudir nahiya to ask the tribesmen to choose someone from the tribe to judge the dispute. Unless some clear infraction of the civil code had taken place and there was proof of the theft of water, for instance, it was much more convenient for the mudir nahiya to refer the problem back to the shaykh or another tribes~ man whom the petitioners might choose, than attempt to acquaint himself with the intricacies of some question of water distribution.
Thus both the engineer and the chief administrator resist mak. ing decisions which have previously been settled on a tribal level. There is no real reason why they should not do so. Their reference group is not tribal, but is constituted by other effendis like themselves. Since they are not subject to removal except by the action of -the central government, small profit lies in developing a local following. Popularity among the local tribesmen is appar~ ently not scorned, but since administrators tend to believe that they are the product of a social evolution which has placed them at a higher stage of development than the tribesmen, and since popularity among small landowners is without economic profit, any willingness to take on responsibilities beyond the duties of the office stems from something which, for lack of a more accurate explanation, might be termed altruism. That such altruism is not entirely lacking is apparent from such case histories as VII and XII in Appendix III. Case x, however, appears to illustrate a more common course of action.
The bulk of problems which come to the irrigation office stem from the simple desire for more water. The irrigation engineer reports a clear pattern: first, men want individual pipes into the government canal; then, after a year or so, they discover that they received more water when they were dividing with their neighbor the supply from a larger pipe,34 and come to have the situation redressed.
Most "internal" canal systems are shared by a lineage or some section thereof; no amount of analysis of disputes will reveal whether this sharing is preferred or merely recognized as a practical necessity. Answers to questions about this situation always reflect ingroup solidarity, in the tribesmen's responses that it is
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation preferred to share a pipe "among one's brothers." Yet Table 16 indicates that requests for separate pipes do come from the members of the same shabba or fakhd. Any course of action which would bring the individuals and the group more water would undoubtedly be preferred, and without direct experience tribesmen might conclude that two pipes must be better than one. And there is some evidence testifying to the solidarity of the shabba with respect to irrigation disputes. The Elbu Ubayd shabba has suffered the problem described in Case XIV for several years, with one fakhd in effect denying a fair share of water to the other. Yet the answer to this problem was to petition the irrigation engineer for additional water; there was no indication that the deprived fakhd had ever considered making a civil issue out of the situation by asking the mudir nahiya to force the second fakhd to give them their share of water. When this course of action was suggested as a possibility, informants replied that living on good terms with their neighbors and relatives exceeded the value of the water.
With the advent of government control over major canals, the ashira or even larger inclusive groupings can no longer simply take water from the natural waterway according to their strength of arms. Recourse to self-help is denied and the government becomes the source of Water. In a sense, it is the government which must be opposed, the irrigation engineer who by persistent effort may be persuaded to provide more water. This in itself is an almost revolutionary social change; instead of bold assertion by force of arms, the tribesmen have to seek the same ends by meekly petitioning and pleading with government officials. Coupling this fact with the attitudes of the effendis and their tendency to turn responsibility back on traditional tribal leaders, it is perhaps not surprising that considerable ambiguity appears in the patterns of local authority. The successful pacification and relative stability established in the Daghara area since 1922 have undermined the authority of the shaykh by eliminating the activities which he customarily led and in which he excelled. For several reasons, many tribesmen no longer pay allegiance to a shaykh. Yet the policy of the government has continued to encourage the shaykhs and force them to assume unaccustomed responsibilities. This, combined with the reluctance of local government officials to participate in tribal disputes, has certainly not encouraged tribesmen
Shaykh and Effendi
to look to the officials for leadership; nor; as we have seen, is the typical pattern of intercourse between effendis and tribesmen likely to result in such a development.s''
On . the other hand, it was clear that of all the effendis with whom the tribesmen had contact; the engineer was the most respected. He himself often remarked that the tribesmen came to him for advice about many things other than irrigation - particularly problems about dealing with other sections of the government. The development of socially validated authority for the engineer among the cultivators of the Daghara district may still have been too nebulous a phenomenon to pinpoint with a chosen set of statistically based indexes during the 1956-58 period. But the conviction remains that indeed such a process was occurring. From listening to scores of interviews in the engineer's office I concluded that many cultivators realized his decisions to provide or not to provide additional water did not stem from personal willfulness. The rational technical grounds upon which the engineer made his decision were coming to be recognized and respected.
The question of the national government's role in relation to irrigation and social organization cannot be closed without mentioning an ecological result. Adding the government-controlled Hurriyya canal with its north and south branches to the main Daghara canal in effect decentralized the irrigation system of the El Shabana. The addition of the Hurriyya system to the Daghara, the one natural waterway from which tribesmen took water directly or ran canals; means that a larger area now has direct access to water. Furthermore, improvement in the headworks of the Daghara canal has increased the supply of summer water. One might presume that this would have an altogether salutary effect on local agriculture. Yet this has not been the case. In the past, the canals constructed by the tribesmen did not hold water all year. They were filled by the use of temporary dams in the Daghara, and when the cultivation cycle did not require water the canals were allowed to drain, a vital process for this low-lying soil as it permitted excess water to drain from the land. Today; the improvements in the irrigation system have resulted in keeping the Daghara at high supply (in other words, filled with water to its full capacity) for a longer period of the year than ever before, as
Changing Patterns of Local Authority: Irrigation well as maintaining a supply of water in the Huriyya system. No period of drainage takes place. While the potential for greater summer cultivation has been increased, the side effects of the increased water supply have been disastrous. This appears to be the major reason for the salting and waterlogging of EI Shabana land over the past twenty years. Tribesmen report they had not noticed the accumulation of salt until the later 1930's and early 1940's. The decentralization of the canal system and maintenance of water at high level has meant that the Daghara canal can no longer act both as a supplier of water in high water season,and a drainage canal in low season., Local irrigation engineers and Baghdad officials agree that under a regime of yearly cultivation, the Daghara area would eventually have developed areas of salination whether or not the decentralization of the permanent water supply had taken place. However, the fact is that the introduction of large-scale coordinated irrigation works, more massive and technically complex than local tribal organizations might have achieved, has been a mixed blessing.
The agricultural future of the Daghara area is now problematic.
Attempts to increase the intensity of cultivation through the persistent application of water to the land in both summer and winter will only increase the rate of salination, a condition which, according to local estimates, has already taken half the land within reach of water out of production. Increasing numbers of local tribesmen-cultivators have been forced to abandon their smallholdings and seek employment elsewhere. Thus the most significant result of government-controlled irrigation may, in a sense, stem from this unforeseen ecological consequence. Unless the deleterious by-products of these improvements are counteracted by further improvements, particularly investment in a large-scale drainage system, the social effects of government control will be to help undermine the agricultural economy of the region. Unfortunately, reports of preliminary engineering studies suggest the expense of installing an adequate drainage system could hardly be justified on economic grounds. Thus, the greater technical efficiency of modern irrigation functionaries like Mann or the Iraqi engineer, though effective in increasing their authority at the expense of traditional leadership, in the end may prove selfdefeating.